Major developments are underway to capitalize on growth opportunities in glass printing – part of the wider functional and industrial print movement.
Tecglass’s F Type F K Series line makes it possible to print glass sheets up to 47.2 x 177.2 inches in a single pass, and larger sizes in multiple passes, in just a few seconds. This line is suitable for mass printing of frames, logos, patterns, and graphic motifs on all types of glass, most notably for the automotive and household appliance industries and interior design. The system can be upgraded to seven color channels, with up to 36 printheads in dual-color technology, or 72 single printheads at 1000 nozzles per color. A high flowrate ink-recirculation system means that heads don’t need to be cleaned, according to Tecglass, while the system’s Simultaneous Drying Technology offers automatic drying of the glass sheet concurrent with printing. The entire line was engineered to optimize and simplify printing operations for continuous cycle production, where it is essential to have a machine that combines high precision and efficiency.
Other firms have also developed digital print systems specifically for glass printing. For instance, KBA-Kammann and Machines Dubuit have been developing inkjet decoration systems for glass bottles and containers since 2014, driving packaging applications. Dip-Tech (sedak in Germany and Tianjin Northglass in China) supply inkjet glass printers for both external and internal architectural and automotive applications, together with suitable inks and curing units to provide fully integrated systems.
In 2017, Dip-Tech was acquired by the Ferro Group, as part of a strategy to expand the parent company’s glass printing business. In an official release on the acquisition, Dieter Binder, VP of Ferro’s Performance Colors and Glass business, and VP for Europe, comments: “The addition of Dip-Tech to Ferro expands our offering to the fast-growing digital glass printing segment. Together, we look forward to actively shaping change in the glass industry.”
In functional markets, like glass printing, established suppliers may be part of a wider manufacturing company or a specialist contract supplier. In Japan, traditional print companies have taken shares of the electronics and lifestyle print sectors, but this is not the case in the rest of the world.
There are complex routes to market and supply chains across industrial and functional print segments. As the topic is featured more often in conferences and exhibitions, the routes to market are expanding. Users are looking for innovation and process efficiencies, providing many opportunities for print companies and for their suppliers. Greater coverage of the topics in the trade press and events is raising awareness of the established players, which might improve their print and decoration using new techniques from new suppliers.
As part of the wider functional and industrial print movement, glass printing is in good company. It’s not only an area with opportunities for market growth and promising signs of development: The broader technology and market advances of functional and industrial print will add momentum to this interesting sector of the print industry over the coming years.
For more information on Smithers Pira’s market report, “The Future of Functional and Industrial Printing to 2022,” see smitherspira.com/industry-market-reports or contact Sean Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more from the Screen Printing June/July 2018 issue.
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